Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Generate your API documentation with DocFX

After using Sandcastle for years as my default code documentation tool, I’m happy that I can finally leave Sandcastle behind and switch to a better tool; DocFX.

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From the documentation

DocFX is an API documentation generator for .NET, currently it supports C# and VB. It has the ability to generate API reference documentation from triple slash comments of your source code. What's more, it allows you to use markdown files to create additional topics like tutorials, how-tos, or even customize the generated reference documentation. DocFX builds a static HTML web site from your source code and markdown files, which can be easily hosted on any web servers, for example, github.io. DocFX also provides you the flexibility to customize the layout and style of your web site through templates. If you are interested in creating your own web site with your own styles, you can follow how to create custom template to create custom templates.

DocFX also has the following cool features:

  • Integrated with your source code. You can click "View Source" on an API to navigate to the source code in GitHub (your source code must be pushed to GitHub).
  • Cross platform. We have both exe version that runs under Windows and a DNX version that runs cross platform.
  • Integrated with Visual Studio. DocFX can be used within Visual Studio seamlessly.
  • Markdown extensions. DocFX Flavored Markdown(DFM) is introduced to help you write API documentation. DFM is 100% compatible with Github Flavored Markdown(GFM) with some useful extensions, like file inclusion, code snippet, cross reference, and yaml header. For detailed description about DFM, please refer to DFM.

How to use it?

  • Start by downloading the DocFX executable and adding the install location to your PATH environment variable.
  • Open a command prompt and browse to the directory where you want to store the documentation
    • Call docfx init –q to generate the documentation project and configuration file

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  • Open the docfx.json and configure the json documentation file where to search for source code(default is src subfolder).

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  • Build the project website
    • docfx docfx_project/docfx.json

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